AFL Round 6 – Essendon v Collingwood: Lest We Forget ANZAC Day 2014

My path to my hostel in Edinburgh last night took me through Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, a creepy site to find yourself in at 2am. A thick fog was building as I traipsed over cobblestones through the barely illuminated tombs and mausoleums within. Home to one of the most haunted places on Earth – The Covenantors Prison – it goes without saying that my pace quickened somewhat. With 100 000 bodies buried scarcely below the surface the atmosphere was eerie, even for someone largely unimpresed by the ‘supernatural’.

The fog remained as ANZAC Day dawned in Scotland the next morning, sign that it was to be a typically dreary day. Rain fell constantly – not heavily – but enough to ensure everything became (and stayed) wet. All plans of climbing Arthur’s Seat disappeared, replaced by dozing in my budget bunk.

It’s strange to be in a different country for ANZAC Day. The lack of attention to the day, and the absence of the ‘normal’ build-up throws you somewhat. After all, for many Australians the day is the real celebration of our national identity. January 26 is but a glorified drinking holiday compared to the memories of sacrifice, loss, stupidity and bravery that accompany April 25.

Despite this, there was still the game. Although it shared the day with other matches, Essendon vs. Collingwood was the one to watch – no matter what country you were in. The Oz Bar was thankfully showing delayed coverage, with meat pies sold over the bar to remind us that bit more of home.

Last time I watched any footy the Bombers were up late in the contest against the Hawks in Round 2 as I sat in the Melbourne departure lounge. From there we lost, and glances at scores aboard the Contiki coach since suggest that the season isn’t progressing well. Losing to St Kilda!? All that was quickly forgotten at quarter-time however, with Essendon attacking relentlessly on their way to a 31 point lead. The run and carry, spread from defence and forward pressure was exceptional. When Jake Melksham kicked the first goal of the second, I was suitably ecstatic.

From then on however the Magpies had all the answers – booting nine consecutive goals on their way to an 18-point three-quarter time lead. Swan and Sidebottom led the charge in the midfield, delivered crucial goals, and were ably supported by a defensive structure that left the Bombers looking as dismal as the grey Edinburgh skies. Hibberd, Heppell and the Merretts did their best to raise hope of a late comeback but the Magpies weren’t to be denied.

Scotland has a history of staving off blitzkreigs from invading armies – denying the Romans and English many a time. Australia similarly fought back against the odds at Gallipoli. Whilst merely an AFL game in comparison to those battles, Collingwood followed suit at the MCG, surviving the Bombers’ early ambush before rallying to take home a 23-point victory.

Perhaps when I’m in Dublin next weekend the luck of the Irish will help Essendon over the line…

Collingwood: 0.3.3; 6.5.41, 9.7.61; 12.11.83
Essendon: 5,4.34; 6.5.41, 6.7.43; 8,12.60


Collingwood: Swan 4, Sidebottom 3, White 2, Elliott, Goldsack. Grundy
Essendon: Winderlich, Melksham, J.Merrett, Ryder, Watson, Stanton, Daniher, Z.Merrett


Collingwood: Swan, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Beams
Essendon: Hibberd, Stanton, Heppell, Melksham

Votes: D.Swan (3), S.Sidebottom (2), B.Stanton (1)

About Sam Laffy

Thirty-something year-old Essendon supporter. Winning the flag in 2000 when I was 12 was supposed to kick off a dynasty I could boast about for years. Still waiting for that 17th flag.....


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well done Sam likewise I would have quickened up also ! Totally concur re , Anzac day is our real national day , fantastic the reports we get from all around the world .
    Thanks Sam

  2. Thanks for the comment – as much as I love travelling Europe and ignoring normal society, it is hard to drag myself away from seeing footy when possible!

Leave a Comment